BEGA Cheese's executive chairman Barry Irvin last night won Rabobank's leadership award for his contribution to food and agribusiness.
Rabobank Australia and New Zealand chief executive Thos Gieskes told the bank's leadership dinner, Mr Irvin had shown great leadership inside and outside of business.
"In a little over a decade the Bega Cheese group has grown from a single-site regional dairy processor in southern New South Wales, with 80 employees and selling only into the domestic market, to its position today as the southern hemisphere's largest cheese-packing and processing business, with sales nudging close to $A1 billion a year, exporting to more than 40 countries and employing some 1400 people," Mr Gieskes said.
He said August's company float and a five-year contract to supply Coles with 19,000 tonnes of cheese each year for the supermarket's homebrand label were impressive achievements.
Mr Irvin told the Sydney dinner he was honoured by the award.
"I have had a wonderful team around me who have shared with me a vision and commitment to build a very special business that is not only successful but has created many opportunities and made a significant difference in the communities that it operates in," he said.
Mr Irvin, is a fourth generation dairy farmer and also chairs Tatura Milk Industries and is a Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory director.